Grow Your Own Food: How To Decide What To Grow In Your Garden
June 11, 2017 Do It YourselfFoodGardeningHome EconomistLife Skills 10
Grow Your Own Food

I have fond childhood memories of playing outside on a hot summer day, walking barefoot out to the garden to pick and eat cherry tomatoes fresh off the vine. The experience of that taste is still vivid in my mind, warm and sweet… perfect little treats. Little did I know, most kids don’t have this luxurious snack. Come to find out, everyone doesn’t grow their own tomatoes and most people have no idea what they are missing out on. Having tasted what the grocery stores have to offer, it is clear to me why people may not have an affinity for tomatoes. The store bought versions taste like bland pieces of acidic sponge, a pure night and day difference from the homegrown ones.

Needless to say, I grew up gardening (thanks mom) and I still engage in the therapeutic activity.

Grow Your Own Tomato
Tomato in a barrel.

Despite living in the “city” (suburb neighborhood track home), I have found plenty of room to grow some tasty organic food. I am excited for my daughter to be old enough to help me in the garden and can’t wait to teach her the ropes. As for now, she sits in her stroller and watches the action (me pulling weeds and fighting snails).

Occasionally someone who is curious about growing food will ask me “What are best veggies to plant?” Great question! When you have limited planting space like I do, it is important to have a plan before you wander through the garden section of the Home Depot filling up your cart with baby plants.

Things to Think About

  •  First thing to consider isWhat do you like to eat? No sense in growing food that you don’t care to eat.
  • What tastes great when grown at home and really sub-par when purchased? Exhibit A- tomatoes. 

    Wine Barrel Planter
    Wine barrel planter growing green onions and zucchini.
  • Is it on the Dirty Dozen list? If so, maybe it is better to grow yourself then purchase. This way you know exactly what the plant’s pesticidal and herbicidal story is.
  • What about price? If it’s super expensive in the store, maybe take a crack at growing it yourself and save some dough.
  • Lastly… Is it fun to grow? For the kids you can grow things like a pole bean Teepee or your own pumpkins for Halloween. For the adults, maybe grow your own hops for some homebrew or some wine grapes. The point is that gardening is supposed to be fun… we aren’t gardening for survival here.
Growing hops in the front yard.
Hops for homebrew.

Here is my favorite song about this topic. Feel free to play it in the background as you read the rest of the post.


Here is a list of my favorite things to grow…

Tomatoes Taste great and are easy to grow.

Blackberries You just can’t find good ones at the store. Keep them in a pot or barrel and be careful, they will try to overrun your yard.

Peppers Jalapeno and Bell, these tend to land on the Dirty Dozen list and it can be hard to find organic jalapenos. They are easy to grow where I live.

Pole Beans Fun to grow and taste great off the vine.

Okra and Artichokes Both have good-looking flowers which make them great for front yard gardens.

Fruit Trees We have Plum, Lemon, and Lime trees. I would like to plant an Apple and Nectarine eventually. Both of those are on the Dirty Dozen list and it’s tough to find nectarines in the store that are worth eating.

Zucchini and Cucumber Too easy not to grow.

There you have it. Don’t be afraid to start growing some of your own food. Worst case scenario is the plants die and you have to continue buying them from the grocery store. Remember… nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I would love to hear from you, what food do you like to grow?

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10 comments on “Grow Your Own Food: How To Decide What To Grow In Your Garden

  1. Nic and Charlee are growing blueberries and strawberries this year! She loves the excitement of watering/drowning them and finding new berries growing! Life lessons wrapped up in so much fun!

  2. This is a great article! A must-read for people wanting to grow their own vegetables or fruit. Home-grown tomatoes are my favorite!

  3. You are so welcome Ronnie. My Grandpa inspired me. That’s how I learned to love okra!! I’ve always believed that it helps kids love their veggies when they are involved in growing them!! Love you!! Great blog!!!

  4. Love your blog. I also love the garden. We have a very small area. We just stick things in and eat asparagus, peas blueberries artichokes,tomatoes, cucumber and butternut squash. I love it and you make it especially fun sounding

    1. Thanks Lorraine! Sounds like you have a great mix, I’ve always considered growing blueberries but still haven’t pulled the trigger. 2018 for sure.

  5. Cool stuff! I will need to try blackberries! We are growing cherry tomatoes and a hybrid tomato, cucumbers, pole beans, lettuce, cabbage, summer squash and carrots. For some reason my jalapeno’s, bell peppers and NM peppers didn’t sprout! any ideas?

    1. Thanks for reading Jes! That’s a great list! I started my peppers inside in February, they struggled to sprout but finally did. I know that peppers like it warm so if it got cold that could have stunted them. A friend of mine had a lot of problems getting his peppers started as well, but that was from leaving his plastic covers (frost protection) on during sunny days. I lost one of mine because of an irrigation issue (gardener error) that it could not recover from. Once you get them to sprout and grown a bit, you might need to feed them. I always have to feed my peppers in order for them to produce. Usually not until they get 8” tall or so, I use Kellogg organic vegetable food. It is mostly Nitrogen, you can just use chicken manure since you have a flock. Not sure this was much help but I hope you can get them to grow! Good luck!

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